Chinese English Schools: Non-Whites Need Not Apply

In China's English schools, even Asians get passed over in favor of whites. 

Posted: 05/16/2012 12:03 PM EDT

Teaching English presents the excellent opportunity to live and work abroad, but in order to snag an English teaching gig in China, you will likely need more than a passport and excellent grammar — you need to be white.

“There’s this concept that if you send your children to English class, the parents are expecting their children to be taught by a white English teacher versus an Asian-American or … a Black American,” said Byron Vogue, who works for the corporate English training company Stanford English, told NBC News.

Unfortunately, the racial bias in recruiting for China’s English school isn’t simply skin deep, NBC reports. Any candidate who isn’t white with blond hair and blue eyes, gets second choice in the face of more “ideal” looking candidates, if at all. Even Asian applicants who are native English speakers don’t fit the bill.

“I was shocked — back home this wouldn’t be acceptable,” Korean-American Mike Lee told NBC News about being passed over for teaching jobs. “It makes you feel like crap. We all came here on the same boat, at the same time, looking for the same opportunity. I didn’t know the color of my skin was going to be an issue. I find it weird to be discriminated against for being Asian, while I’m in Asia.”

A post on the popular forum the Beijinger outlines the phenomenon:

“In Beijing this is the general pecking order in terms of a company's recruitment (by Chinese managers):

1. White Americans/Canadians
2. White British
3. White Australians/New Zealanders and South Africans
4. European Non-natives/Black Americans/Black British
5. American Asians/Black Aussies (Australians) and Kiwis (New Zealanders)/Filipinos/Africans”


According to the report, the intense discrimination persists because Chinese parents do not believe a non-white person can be a native speaker. Similar discrimination is said to persist in other sectors among Chinese employers who often feel that the social currency of a white face trumps all other requirements.


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(Photo: REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic)

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